January 6, 2018

The Mustering of Motivation | New year, same problems

New year, new me. That's what everyone says, right? As if the simple change from one year to the next, which is really just the switch from one day to the next that we experience every 24 hours, could fundamentally change who we are.

Maybe that is just a pessimistic view. Maybe I am just a little bit cynical. Maybe I am wrong, but I don't believe in magic of New Year's resolutions. I don't believe that a kiss on midnight will automatically ensure romantic prosperity or that a decision made on a whim when the clock strikes midnight will create any change in your life.

I don't believe in New Year's resolutions, but I do believe in the power of everyday decisions and goals.

A New Year's resolution is a one-time decision, often occurring as the result of pressure from society to instantaneously become a better person, that rarely lasts beyond January 31st. Resolutions made on a whim lack strength, longevity, and effectiveness. If a goal is not backed up by resiliency and motivation, it will never survive.

But that is exactly the problem: motivation. In my inconsistent blogging life, motivation is the scapegoat for all of my problems. Motivation is the continuity of choices you make all-day, everyday, which is infinitely more powerful than a singular decision made on New Year's Eve.

I am a long-life procrastinator who is more often motivated by the panic of a close deadline than the ambition of getting things done early just for the sake of having them done.

As you can probably tell, this becomes an issue for blogging, especially since it is self-motivated for me. I am always motivated for schoolwork (because I am obsessed with my grades) and my actual work (because I like money), but blogging is more self-rewarding. Since there is no salary or grade for blogging (at least I hope not considering my less than stellar record), it can be hard for me to find the motivation to write a post, start a blogging project, or sometimes, even read at all.

Going back to my skepticism of New Year's resolutions. I could have made the New Year's resolution to finally make a blogging schedule, to read at least 100 books in 2018, or to double the number of followers my blog has. I could have come up with all kinds of crazy goals and desires to wish on at the stroke of midnight. However, I didn't.

Instead, I am working on increasing my motivation and making the decision EVERYDAY to be a better blogger, better reader, and a better person. If you are of the same mind set (or you just want some motivational ramblings), here are my top tips to get and keep your motivation.

1. Look at your previous work

Not to brag or anything, but I have written some pretty good blog posts in past. Over my five (on and off) years of blogging, I have written posts that I am really proud of. And, the odds are, you have written some pretty great posts too (and if you don't think so, look again!). Even though I am not promoting narcissism, sometimes you can be your own muse. When I am in a particularly bad blogging slump without any idea how to escape, I like to go back to some of my favorite posts. 

Maybe there is a forgotten series lurking in your blogging archives that is longing to be revived. Maybe there is a series that you never finished reviewing. Maybe you changed your mind about a topic and you need to update your discussion post. Your post archives are a cornucopia for blogging inspiration.

This step is really hitting two targets with one stone since you are getting ideas for new posts while also getting a little bit of a self-esteem boost. A lack of motivation can have many causes, but for me, insecurity is one of the top offenders. I get stuck thinking that I am a terrible blogger, so there is not even a point in writing another post. However, a trip down memory lane is a reminder that you have written some great things in the past, so nothing is stopping you from doing it again.

2. Try something new

The another contributor to my lack of motivation is boredom. Blogging is great and all, but sometimes it is not the most fun thing in the world. There are clerical tasks (like formatting posts, replying to emails, and keeping track of ARCs) that seem to take the fun out of blogging. In addition, a blogging schedule, with everything mapped out weeks and weeks in advance can get boring for me. Doing the same features and memes every week got tiring and caused my motivation to plummet. 

So, my advice is to shake up your blogging schedule every once in a while. If you are tired of posting the same feature every week, then switch it to every other week and try out another feature. Believe me, there are more book blogging features and events than you would ever be able to finish. The worst case scenario is that you lose a few views that week, which is nothing compared to the potential of finding your new favorite feature.

You can also switch up the aesthetics of your blog. I love to change my blog design when I am feeling bored with my blog. Even something as small as changing the color of my tabs or the font of my headlines can bring excitement back to my blogging routine. 

3. Be inspired by social media

Even though this may seem counter-intuitive, browsing social media can be your ally in the fight for motivation. There are so many creative and talented bloggers in the book blogging community who constantly create amazing content. While you cannot copy other bloggers' ideas, you can certainly be inspired by their graphics and topics. Use inspiration from other bloggers' style to make your own style better, not just as a carbon copy. Don't write the same post as other blogger, but branch out from their ideas to create something unique, something new, and something your own.

Social media is the best place to explore the latest trends, discussions, and tags that are dominating the book blogging universe. If you have been out of the game for a while, social media is your best chance to catch up with the happenings in this special part of the Internet. There is no one better than our fellow bloggers to show us the hottest books, authors, and events going on.

In addition, there are a bunch of wonderful people on Twitter who would be more than willing to annoy you and keep you on track with blogging (yes, I am talking about you, Roberta @ Offbeat YA). Accountability goes a long way in the battle for motivation (especially when accompanied with GIFs and persistent mentions). 

4. Be wary of social media

Yes, I am aware that this point contradicts my previous point. And no, I don't care since it still makes sense. Social media is contradictory by nature. It was created to connect people and encourage communication (hence the social in the name), however it can also do the opposite. Social media can be more of an evasion from reality, hiding from the real world with real human interaction. 

The final obstacle with finding motivation is finding time. Unfortunately, there are many traps in our society that encourage us to waste time, especially social media. We have to remember that social media websites are also businesses with the intent of making money. In order to make money, they have to maximize the time that users spend posting, browsing, and wasting time. As we all know, it is extremely easy to get lost in the scrolling nature of social media, falling into a rabbit hole of hashtags, trends, and memes. 

Personally, I allot a specific amount of time to browsing social media (often even setting a timer) to avoid scrolling away too much time. After all, the more time I spend on social media, the less time I can use for reading and blogging. 

5. Don't expect perfection

As a Type A perfectionist, I am always striving for the best. And if I don't think I can do the best, I won't do it at all. After all, you cannot mess something up if you don't do it in the first place. When I type it out, it seems completely ridiculous (because it actually is). However, I irrationally struggle with imperfection on an everyday basis, fearing that my audience will dump me as soon as I miss a deadline or slip a typo.

My expectation of perfection has killed so many post ideas and blogging decisions. It took me three months to decide to finally revamp my blog design because I was convinced that nothing I did would be good enough. This toxic mindset should not define your blog. 

If you don't believe me, here is a video of Hank Green (founder of Vidcon, Vlogbrother, and creator extraordinaire) explaining his acceptance of imperfection in his creative pursuits. In summary, Hank Green doesn't seek perfection because you can never really reach it. By definition, perfection doesn't actually exist, so you would be striking for the impossible. It's creators' job to do their best without letting the impossibility of perfection stop them from creating. 

Do you ever lack the motivation to blog? Please tell me it is not just me. If so, how do you regain your motivation? What causes your lack of motivation? I need all of your advice!

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